Saturday, 9 May 2015

Pink Triangle

On Monday I watched Woman In Gold at Clapham Picturehouse. The film tells the story of an elderly Jewish woman who attempts to reclaim family possessions that were seized by the Nazis. Author Michael J Bayzler says they stole 600,000 works in all, mostly from Jewish collectors.

The Nazis identified Jews as a race and defined this race as “inferior.” They also spewed hate-mongering propaganda that unfairly blamed Jews for Germany’s economic depression and the country’s defeat in World War I. Between five and six million Jews - out of a Jewish population of nine million living in Europe - were killed during the Holocaust.
"I grew up knowing about the holocaust. At least I knew about the Jews and the holocaust, but I didn’t have any idea about what happened to homosexual men." Ken Setterington 
The story of homosexuals during the Holocaust is one that’s often left untold, despite the fact that the pink triangle that they were forced to wear has become such a huge symbol for gay rights. Estimates for the number of homosexual prisoners is varied, ranging from 5,000 to 15,000.

“I was a nurse. They said a queer couldn’t be a nurse. Suppose I had to touch a patient’s penis! God forbid. They said rather than be a nurse, I should be a prisoner. A more suitable occupation. So. That’s how I got my pink triangle.” Bent, a play by Martin Sherman
This week Peter Tatchell has re-launched his campaign asking the Danish Government to apologise for protecting Danish Nazi SS Dr Carl Vaernet, who conducted the medical experiments on gay concentration camp prisoners.
"At Buchenwald concentration camp, SS physician Dr. Carl Vaernet performed operations designed to convert men to heterosexuals: the surgical insertion of a capsule which released the male hormone testosterone. Such procedures reflected the desire by Himmler and others to find a medical solution to homosexuality." Homosexuals: Victims of the Nazi Era, published by United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
The method of Verne's operation was to insert an artificial gland containing the male hormone testosterone into the groin of the patient. The functional novelty of the "gland" was that it could release constant doses of hormone into the patient thereby enabling a therapy over a long period.

Vaernet was never prosecuted – together, the British and Danish Government allowed him to escape to Argentina. There he continued his research into the elimination of homosexuality.

Vaernet remained in Argentina until he died in 1965; living there with the full knowledge of the Danish and Allied authorities. They made no attempt to prosecute him for war crimes; possibly because they regarded his research to "cure" homosexuality as legitimate, even commendable.

This weekend will commemorate the 70th Anniversary of VE Day. Is it not time for an explanation as to why Værnet and his Danish protectors were shielded from prosecution?

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Prince Henry

This morning, I have watched the story of Prince Henry by Olly Pike.

Last month, the UK’s largest teachers’ union called on the next government to make it compulsory to teach children about same-sex relationships.

The motion, which was approved by delegates at the National Union of Teachers conference in Harrogate, was followed by the revelation that, in a YouGov survey of 3,000 18 to 29-year-olds, almost half of young people (49%) think the term "that's gay" is acceptable to use.

The story of Prince Henry has been created by Olly Pike, a videographer and editor who produces ‘Pop’n’Olly’ - an online show for children, which encourages creativity, diversity and respect.
"I feel the best way to battle discrimination for future generations is to start with children. We should educate them about a wider cross-section of society and teach acceptance with regards to love, kindness and respect."
My favourite moment of the story is when the King sends out invitations to all the royals in the land, so that Henry can choose somebody to marry. The King sends the invitation to all the royal Princes and Princess - the focus of the story isn't that Prince Henry wants to marry a boy, but that Prince Henry wants to marry a boy who isn't a royal.

What's your favourite part of the story?

Olly intends to create more videos which will play out much like 'Prince Henry' and continue to use the common theme of comedy and illustration to further re-enforce the episodes' key message. You can support his inclusive and educational work on Kickstarter.

...and if Prince Henry's tale inspires you to educate younger generations about inclusivity and diversity, you should also check out 'And Tango Makes Three' or 'The Princes and the Treasure'.

Sunday, 19 April 2015


In reference to Giorgio Armani's privacy regarding his sexuality, John Arlidge writes in today's The Sunday Times Magazine that "even though fashion is the easiest profession in the world to work as a gay man, Armani is still worried that sales in Asia might fall if he dropped the mask." 

In 2013, Pew Research Centre revealed that "majorities in South Korea (59%) and China (57%) also say homosexuality should not be accepted by society; 39% and 21%, respectively, say it should be accepted. South Korean views, while still negative, have shifted considerably since 2007, when 77% said homosexuality should be rejected and 18% said it should be accepted by society."

There are an estimated 27 and 30 million homosexuals in China, "with 18 to 20 million gay men and 9 to 10 million gay women". But "a deeply traditional culture that demands young people get married and have children to continue the family line, as a sign of one's filial duty" puts pressure on many. This traditional demand is intensified by China's one-child policy.

Some gay men and lesbians purse a formality marriage, known as Xinghun. Whilst this does enforce a heteronormative narrative, it is certainly less suppressive than one of the alternative solutions, which Tang Kuiyu has been investigating.

The professor from the College of Humanities at Harbin Institute of Technology released his findings from a study titled 'Social Adaptation of Women who Marry Gay Men' this week. From his research, he concluded that "more than 90% of the women surveyed reported they had suffered domestic violence, including emotional abuse and physical aggression" at the hands of their homosexual partners. Less than a third later opted to divorce.

It would seem that this line from Arlidge's The Sunday Times Magazine article could be in relation to many homosexuals in China - not just the Italian Fashion Designer and billionaire: "Improbable though it may seem to a western audience who have long assumed he is gay and not cared, many consumers in more conservative emerging markets, notably China think he is straight."

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Alan Turing's Legacy currently hosts a petition calling for the British Government to pardon all of the estimated 49,000 men who, like Alan Turing, were convicted of consenting same-sex relations under the British "gross indecency" law (only repealed in 2003).

In response to the petition, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said:
Alan Turing and the thousands of other men should never have been prosecuted. It is utterly wrong that so many people were convicted simply for being who they are. 
The Liberal Democrats and I will work to make sure those with convictions for consensual homosexual activity between adults are pardoned. It should never have been a crime in the first place.
The petition was set up by The Advocate's Matthew Breen, who was inspired to campaign after watching The Imitation Game. The film shows Alan Turing, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, lead Britain to win the war against Hitler before being convicted of gross indecency. It's this conviction which lead to the mathematical genius' suicide in 1954.

As part of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, the law was changed "to allow men convicted of homosexual activity to apply for a “disregard” to make their conviction “spent”." However, this petition calls for the onus to be on the government, as opposed to the individual convicted for simply 'being who they are'.

Regardless of whether the petition is successful in securing pardons for all those convicted of consenting same-sex relations under the "gross indecency" law, Alan Turing will now no longer be heralded as just a war hero - but also as a human rights pioneer.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Vote Alexis

Remember Season 8 of Dynasty? When Alexis Morell Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan ran against Blake, in the battle to become state governor?


Joan Collins was up to her legendary tricks during this evening's Leader's Debate, publicly criticising the candidates on twitter.


In John Barrowman's recent interview with The Advocate, "When asked if he thought American audiences were ready to see a gay superhero like Flash or Arrow in a series of their own, he replies, 'Personally, I don’t care if they are, or not. It’s time we had one.'"

Barrowman's call for an on screen gay superhero comes just a few months after DC Comics announced a solo series for the world's first gay male superhero, Midnighter. "Midnighter, created in 1998 by the writer Warren Ellis and artist Bryan Hitch, first appeared along with his long-term partner (now husband) Apollo as part of DC’s Wildstorm Comics imprint."

But when Midnighter is released in June 2015, the character will be single. Writer Steve Orlando explains, "Midnigher realizes he doesn’t know how to define himself as a gay man, without Apollo. That’s not healthy. That’s a broken adult relationship. Their relationship has a profound effect on the series."

2009 almost saw Hero, "a young-adult novel about Thom Creed, who is coping with high school, his sexual orientation and budding superpowers", make it to the small screen but the American cable channel, Showtime, didn't commit after optioning.

Perhaps the success of Midnighter on the new-stands (pre-order Midnighter here) will determine whether a TV series or film about a gay superhero will be produced.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Demons in the closet

As far as I was concerned, the phrase 'gay demon' was a reference to Russell Tovey playing a Werewolf in Being Human.

According to the Daily Star, the co-pilot who caused the Germanwings plane crash killing all passengers and crew was "haunted by secret gay demons".

Twitter's response to the headlines have been positively demonic. "Gay Demons give you the willies" tweeted @ColinA2911; "I have gay demons. Constantly telling me how bad my outfit is" tweeted @danthompson78; "Phew. So it's only depressed people confused about their sexuality that are dangerous. That's a relief then!" tweeted @iainlee

No doubt Stonewall will be setting up a Gay Demons helpline in the coming days. 

Twitter Updates 2.2: FeedWitter